Each year, I have found the system of support stronger than the year before. James and Athena Pond, plus the committed staff from the U.S. and Cambodia, work to understand how to bring best practices in the field of trauma recovery, and to merge them with the particular challenges and opportunities of this culture. Phnom Penh is burgeoning with development; every other block has a high rise coming (jack hammers, barefoot workers, bamboo scaffolding - a true miracle that it works) while it remains "developing" in so many other ways.
Many of you are right now watching the 40th Anniversary Show of Saturday Night Live. SNL started in the same year as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, where for over four years approximately 2 million (1/4 of the population) Cambodians, particularly the intellectuals, artists and professionals, were brutally murdered.
Trauma is in the DNA of every living Cambodian living.
Luckily, so is hope and resilience.
Most of the things I get to experience here, working with girls and staff, are not easy to articulate. I can't really share anecdotes or many photos because this is an intimate and private process.
The photos below are the ones I can share as they don't reveal the identities of these stunning girls. In the first photo, where sweet, smart and hilarious Vanna is showing us how to do a game, is representative of how our time together works. In short, we have a total blast. We find joy together. We listen to each other. We find ways to feel happiness. We ground, center, orient, connect, breathe and nourish each other.
I am forever changed and forever grateful.